The Harlequins number nine suffered a shoulder injury in training on Monday and will need to prove his fitness in the captain’s run on Friday before getting the green light from head coach Stuart Lancaster.
“He’s only 50-50 I’d say at the moment,” said Lancaster after naming his side for the Eden Park clash.
“We want to make sure that we do right by him and to go into a Test against the All Blacks with anyone who is not 100 per cent, both physically and mentally, would be a poor decision. We need to make sure he’s 100 per cent right.”
With 47 Test caps, Care is by far the most experienced member of England’s back line that has been shorn of the likes of Owen Farrell, Luther Burrell and Brad Barritt for this Test after their late arrival into New Zealand following the English Premiership final last weekend.
Fullback Mike Brown (26 caps) and centre Manu Tuilagi (22) are the next most experienced backs with wingers Marland Yarde and Jonny May, inside centre Kyle Eastmond and flyhalf Freddie Burns having only 13 caps between them.
But Lancaster said having Leicester Tigers scrumhalf Ben Youngs ready to step up if required lessened the pressure on Care.
“I know he (Care) is desperate to play because he’s been exceptional in the Premiership and for us this season, but we have to do the right thing,” Lancaster said.
“I’ve also got in my mind there is more than just one game, there’s a series to be played out.”
While losing Care would be a blow, Lancaster was confident Youngs would be a more than capable replacement.
“His form and Leicester’s form picked up towards the end (of the season). I thought he played really well in the semifinal and having spoken to him when he arrived into camp he was buzzing,” Lancaster said.
“He realised he’d had a couple of flat periods during the course of the season but he’s worked hard off the field on his conditioning and he’s in really good nick at the moment.
“If you go back to the game in 2012 when he started at scrumhalf against New Zealand that was him at his best and he’s approaching that form now.”
Lancaster was also comfortable about bringing Lee Dickson on to the bench if he had to.
Dickson, fresh from winning the Premiership final with Northampton Saints, only arrived in New Zealand on Wednesday and did not train with the squad on Thursday.
“He’s excited. He’s just played in a final. He’s won it and he’s absolutely buzzing,” Lancaster said.
“We need to manage him carefully. As soon as we knew (Care was in doubt) we got word back to England and I got him ready mentally and to start adjusting his sleep patterns to make sure he’s adjusted. He’ll be ready. There’s no problem there.”
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